tv The Communicators CSPAN December 25, 2010 6:30pm-7:00pm EST
this week on "the communicators," the discussion on the passage of the new net neutrality rules at the fcc. our 0 guests are g.g. sewn of the consumer group public knowledge and dean garfield of the information technology industry council. >> well, as you can imagine there was a lot of reaction from all quarters following the fcc's action on net neutrality at their december 21 meeting. .
>> i believe our actions today will foster an ongoing cycle of massive investment, innovation and consumer demand, both at the edge and in the core of broadband networks. this will strengthen the internet job creation engine. our action bullet that's our goal of halving america's broadband networks be the freest and the fastest in the world. joining us on the set is jean
garfield, the president and ceo of the information technology industry council. mr. garfield, tell us what you think of what the fcc did yesterday and tell us about that. >> thank you for having us here. i think that yesterday's decision on the order was an important step forward in striking a balance between principles third on the one hand, innovation and transformed the potential for innovation and then for investment and bringing certainty so that those that are investing can have some certainty about the regulatory framework and have some assurance on the return of their investment. this spans the gamut in the technology sector and there are 49 members that are the global leaders in communications technology. >> one of the republican
commissioners basically said that what the sec did yesterday was a solution looking for a problem that was not necessary. >> in general, our members run the gamut in the internet sector. the internet has been a transformative media. there is a need to ensure that transform the nature is protected. i think that it is appropriate for the fcc to step in and set up a framework for businesses. i do not think that it is an overreach. what they did was to try and strike a balance. to do this, you press people off. they spoke for and against that this was really a striking
pilots. >> someone who is on the other hn.e of that issue is gigi sow what do you think of what the fcc did this week? >> i will agree that this was a step forward and it was not a step forward enough. these rules were supposed to bring regulatory certainty and they will not do that because instead of adopting strong, clear rules, the fcc has adopted vague rules and week rules. it is not going to lead with certainty. it will lead to gamesmanship. it is not going to bring any certainty to the technology sector because until the fcc in forces these rules and adjudicate and interpret the rules, no one will know what is going on.
we asked for three very simple changes to the original proposal. one was to strengthen the wireless rules. wireless internet access is treated differently. wireless is the future of internet access, particularly for poor people. we wanted there to be resumption for paid prioritization. we do not want the telephone and cable companies to force other internet companies to actually pay for part or disservice, better quality of service, faster service. we do not want that. there should be a presumption against that. the third thing that we wanted was for the fcc to close a loophole that would have allowed internet access providers to provide the top 20
web sites. we asked for three very small changes and unfortunately, the chairman decided not to give them to us and so we are disappointed. >> what is public knowledge? >> public knowledge is a consumer advocacy organization. we seek to protect consumer rights in a democratic and open internet system. >> i think that her comments speaks to two things. one is the complexity of these issues. the other is how far we have come in such unlimited period of time. the list that she went through on the points of disagreement would have been a lot longer. i think that the chairman's statements that you heard at the
beginning and the order and bring work reflects the fact that we are at the point where we are in agreement on the issues. this is going to be a continuing conversation. yesterday's decision by those who voted in favor of the issue, they will begin to focus on applying them and continue to get investment in the internet. >> do you agree that your 85% in agreement? parks we have been 85% in agreement for about five years, but it is that 15% that is critical. the wireless issue is important because that is the future of the internet. >> why do you think that they were treated differently? >> the chairman believes that wireless is a more formal of technology that there is more regulatory leeway.
i do not necessarily disagree with him on that point. one of the exceptions to the neutrality rule is that providers should have the ability to insure that they operate efficiently provided not have any problem with that. that is not the same thing as saying that a wireless carrier can block applications unless they are certain websites. they cannot block the supplications and cannot block web sites. that is in the rules. they are giving carte blanche to the wireless media. that is where we say that it is not necessary to give that kind of leeway. you have to give leeway in how
they insure that their networks run more efficiently. you cannot allow them to favor certain applications over others predict that is the essence of network and a trolley. -- network neutrality. >> we could come up with something that is different than what the chairman came up with an open chili better. the question is, would that then alienate another group of participants? certainly, it would. i think that it was smart for the chairman to have this agreement and let's fight about the other things over the next five years but let's focus on other priorities. in some respects, net neutrality has been the national debt for the fcc. it is something that has been weighing them down to get to other important issues. i think that it is a proper for them to say that on wireless, there is not an agreement, but let's deal where there are
points of agreement and move on. >> let's have you both define what you think that neutrality is and if you think that this term should be used. >> i think of what it comes down to or the two issues that i talked about. how do you strike a balance between innovation and get, on the other side, an insurance on the return of investment. how do we make sure that operators treat any bit of information that is traversing the networked equally and fairly. i think that in figuring out how you treat those fairly, is important to strike a balance between those two ideas. >> to me, network neutrality is about preserving the internet
and putting control in your hands and my hands provided not have to ask permission from any telephone or cable company to see the web sites that i want to see and access the applications that i want to access. there is no gatekeeper in the middle deciding who the winners and losers are over the internet. we know what broadcasting is like and we know what cable is like. there is a master controller that says that you can get on my broadcast asian or you cannot. -- broadcast station or you cannot. that is what makes the internet so wonderful. we choose what we want to watch, when we want to watch it and nobody chooses for a spirit of that is what network neutrality maintains, that user control does not have someone making a decision in the middle. >> is that the situation today? >> it is for the most part.
there are areas where that does not happen. i can talk about that. but network neutrality is about preserving the internet that we have come to know and love and which has been this great engine of innovation, education, civic discourse. that is what we want to preserve. there have been instances where providers have stepped in and said that for whatever reason, i am not going to allow this application or in want to slow down this application. >> i think-i agree with you for it is important. we should not preserve this like a dinosaur. this is an innovative spirit that has transformed how we live and how we do business but it also requires investment.
everyone says that we will have a serious problem. by 2014, our networks will not be able to handle the traffic that we are seeing today. we have to strike a balance between competing concerns in a rational way. what the fcc did was to try to strike that balance. i do not think that you're going to end up with principles, no matter what the chairman came up with. in this instance, pragmatism prevails. that is a good thing. >> dean garfield, what do you think about the divide between wire and wireless? >> i think that the wireless and wired lines are very different. wireless is still in an early stage. we have gotten used to running a route with our mobile devices, but that was not even the case five years ago. those differences should be respected.
do i think that the fcc could have handled them differently than they did? perhaps improve it in some way, certainly. i think that where they ended was a reasonable place and it is not the end. it is really the beginning. >> can we talk about pragmatism? that is an interesting word that is being used. we need to make sure that the tent was big enough to include public interest groups and internet providers and also wireless carriers and cable operators. the truth needs to be told that the main party is that the fcc wanted to keep independent was at&t. they wanted them to stay as supportive as possible. what did this get them? i do not think it got them very much. the moment that this got voted
out, the republicans were saying that they were going to reverse it. i think that the chairman was under the impression that if he keeps at&t in the tent, then it would keep down republican opposition. if you listen to the statements of the republican commissioners, they were asking congress to overturn this. i do not think that you got a lot out of keeping at&t in the tent. supporters, like my organization, but are saying that that is unfortunate. the chairman chose at&t over other organizations. that is his choice. >> you mention congress. senatore fcc's vote, kay bailey hutchison made this statement on the floor of the senate. >> the senator is a ranking
member of the subcommittee in commerce and in the ranking member of the commerce committee. today, we're going to submit a congressional review act to overturn this troubling regulatory overreach by the fcc. i think that it is time for congress to say that we have not delegate this authority to the fcc. the communications act -- of the sec tried to do this in another part of the act. they were struck down by the court. now, they have gone to a different interpretation in a different section of the act to try to gain the capability to obstruct the freedom of access to the internet. it is a huge and serious issue that i hope congress will take
the reins and say to the fcc that if we need regulation in this area, congress will do it. >> dean garfield? >> my reaction is that it is appropriate for congress to exercise oversight in this area. in the administrative agency is subject to the oversight as well as direction from congress. it is important to keep in mind that the month and a half ago, if that long, chairman waxman was trying to find a solution for congressional action and were not able to do this. i think it is perfectly appropriate. it would bring a greater degree of certainty. >> i agree. congress should act. but it is not going to be easy. it is quick to take a real long time. the internet and broadband are in a kind of weird stage where
cable was 40 years ago. the fcc did not have direct authority over its and congress waited 20 years to pass the first cable act in 1984 and then another one in 1992. consumers need protection. that is why the rules are so important. if congress wants to act, i encourage them to act. a lot more needs to be fixed, not just that will patrol the. the legal foundation for network neutrality also affected other things that the fcc wanted to do. for example, providing universal access to all americans with broadband and providing subsidies for poor people. insuring cyber security for broadband systems. ensuring that people that use cell phones can roam and use their broadbent internet access in a running away like they do
with herself phone service. there are a lot of things that the sec's legal foundation is up in the air. i encourage congress to act. in the meantime, the fcc has to. >> you have a republican house coming in. chances are, they will not act in the way that you want them to act. >> that is possible. we have a democratic senate. normally, these issues have not been partisan. they have been bipartisan issues. i think -- chairman upton is a very sensible person. if you get a couple people from each party saying that this agency is trying to find a legal authority to do what it needs to
do. all of our constituents want broadband. you want your constituents to have broad band. right now, the fcc cannot do that under its legal authority. >> this is brit glass. he is in laramie, wyoming. mr. glass, tell us about your company and tellus called the fcc's decision affects you. >> larry it is the company that i operate in laramie, wyoming and it is a wireless internet provider. we were doing this back in 1992. people were concerned about permission to innovate. if the regulations that the fcc
has just passed, we would not have been able to innovate in what we wanted to do. we are concerned that they will actually outlaw the most popular plans that make broadband affordable for people who get our wireless service. we are very worried. we're worried about what will happen with investors. a number of investors have backed up and the fcc regulation will make it difficult for us to do that. we have not seen the final text of the rules. i am taking a break. i am installing internet on a roof in the rule area. >> the fcc kept wireline and
wireless supper. would you like to see some regulation on the wireless side? >> what the fcc said that it would do is give an exception to mobile wireless, such as what you might get on your cell phone. that is one of the reasons we're worried. wireless is differed -- is different from wireline. there are greater constraints because we used unlicensed spectrums. as a result, we are hurt even more than the mobile wireless companies are, but we have stricter regulations than them. we do not believe that the rules are fair. >> dean garfield, what did you hear from mr. glass?
>> it is the same point that i made earlier about how far we have come in a relatively short period of time. we could easily spend another 10 years arguing about the points of disagreement. what i offer is that we are much better off focusing on the points in which we agree and then allow, particularly on mobil, the market to continue to develop. let's make decisions based on how the market transforms over the next few years. this is true enough the beginning. we have been debating these issues for over five years, but it is not the end. >> were you disappointed with the vote yesterday? >> absolutely not. something is better than nothing. i think that he feared that if he did not vote yes, the
chairman might be willing to not vote at all and it would be left for the next two years with no protection subtle. it is a start. it is a step and the right direction. the devil is to be in the details and the fcc is " to have to figure out the details. all of the critically important questions on what it means to have an open internet, the rules are either silent and contradict what we have. nobody has seen this ruling. we knew what the framework we were starting from was what the republicans would not agree to. we were not starting from zero. >> michael cox spoke yesterday
and he was the iffy vote. here is what he said. >> there is more than i would have liked in this order. i would of preferred a general ban to discover providers to pay for priority and prioritizing those with the pockets and that would leave us with a second- class internet. i think that we should have done more to strip loopholes from abroad and internet access service to prevent some from claiming that they are not broadbent companies. we made some improvements in the definition, but i still have some worries. the internet is the internet. no matter how you access it. the millions of citizens going mobile these days and the entrepreneurs creating wireless content and applications and
services should have the same freedoms and protections as those in the wired contacts. >> i think that he is right on. these rules fall short of protecting consumers. i think that he did the right thing in voting for it. we will have to hope that the fcc strongly enforce these rules. i think the sec for setting up a complete process were complaints are considered and built upon very quickly. that is good. my concern is, what about the next fcc? these rules or wide open for interpretation and depending on what your ideology is, it could be interpreted in a way that protects consumers and in a way that doesn't. >> they talked about some of the
legal arguments made. >> despite the desires of some, congress has not established a new title of the act to police the internet network management, not even implicitly. and these saltatory authority is perhaps why members of congress introduced legislation to give the sec these powers. the act already gave the commission this. what was legislation needed in the first place? i am concerned that this leaky ship is sailing through a regulatory fog without the necessary balance of factual or legal substance. in another act of legal sleight of hand, the order claims that it is not an attempt to classify broadband services, but it is
functionally what the majority is morning to do title three licensed wireless service and title six video services by subjected them to nondiscrimination obligations in the absence of a congressional mandate. >> there are a lot of metaphors, there. he is right that there is a lot of legal uncertainty. for too long, we spent a lot of time talking about title one vs title to. -- title two. i can say that our members look for title to reclassification of because we live in a world where these services are not the same as your traditional telephony services.
that being said, is focusing less on profits and more on finding solutions that will lead to innovation. >> rod macdonald is quite the dramatic gatt. i have to agree with part of what he said. i think that the title one theory that the fcc adopted is a leaky ship and therefore to have a difficult time in court justifying it. we would have preferred that they reverse the decision from 2002 and reclassify internet access as a title two communications service. that would have been a much firmer legal foundation then this decision. is going to be difficult. i think that we are born to try to help the fcc support its decision, but it is going to be difficult.